Thursday 3201. The Neanderthal has just vacated the house, leaving a smeared towel, his musky body odor and a red coral necklace. He prunes my roses three days a week (there are a lot of roses) and he keeps the grass short. If I were attracted to him, it would be on account of his body odor, or perhaps the strength of his arms and the size of his torso. But I am not. He is merely a member of a species that is becoming increasingly extinct. He is barely intelligent, the least intelligent example of human evolution. But at least my roses get taken care of.
Friday 4608. Matter converted into binary data flows like a river through the giant greasy machine on the edge of town. It transforms past into future, and almost nobody understands how. Neanderthals have designed and constructed this machine, much to the dismay of metaphysicians and archaeologists, since its concept threatens their intellectual kingdoms. The machine has been in use for four years, and the situation will only get worse. No one has yet any idea how it will impact our future – or our past. I just finished reading a story by Murakami, in which elephants and granaries inexplicably go up in flames, which reminded me of the prophecy of an elderly shaman who once claimed to be my grandfather. He confided to me that he could see the future. Today I doubt his sincerity. What he saw was the past, but not the past as we know it.
Saturday 1607. A heavy rain prevents me from putting out the trash, so I cannot properly fulfill my civic duties. I could do with the help from the Neanderthal, but he has not yet returned. He may have drowned. Neanderthals cannot swim. They keep far from any body of water. The even avoid washing. This may explain why I am so fond of his smell, which somehow reminds me of my grandparent's house. It is a precious memory. They were exiled to the forest three years ago and have not returned, like so many of their generation.
Sunday 1894. I place my hand on his forearm and feel his muscles through his thick, resilient skin. Three months ago, he raped me in the gazebo. On the table. We are biologically incompatible, and I cannot get pregnant from him. He hurt me. He laughed at my pain. He laughed at my body, which compared to his is pale and skinny. He can easily keep me in check, physically. The day after, he went to see the machine, where he undoubtedly met with other Neanderthal. His race is prone to melancholy. He returned a day later, brooding, as if his past and his future gave him cause for deep concern. He is, however, indecisive, and given to sudden mood changes.
Monday 7041. The machine, which looks like a fossilized stegosaurus, towers over the city, partially hidden in the clouds that drift inland from the sea. Its dimensions undoubtedly refer to the Gods in which most Neanderthals seem to believe. If we would be able to understand their motives, we could distinguish their deeper thoughts from their practical objectives. But that sort of understanding is not a given, not for us. I take precautions, for my own mental health. When I go on vacation, I avoid the coastal areas because they remind me too much of the deep oceans my species has evolved from. In that aspect we are no different from the Neanderthal. It is instructive to study their habits, but disconcerting as well. When the sun goes down they stand upright, head raised, and stare at the horizon to catch the last rays of light, as if they fear the sun would never return. It is probably some form of religious worship, as some of my esteemed academic colleagues point out. They themselves would, of course, deny the fact.
Tuesday 0733. Strange things have happened tonight. When the moon appeared, it was colored red. Astronomers explained to reporters that this is impossible unless the atmosphere of our planet is heavily contaminated. Which, they affirm, it is not. Air traffic is prohibited. Nuclear power plants shut down. Dogs bark incessantly. Some women miscarry. Certain Indian provinces are stricken by torrents of frogs. My Neanderthal is perturbed by all these events. I see fear in his eyes, but also desire. I suspect the incident in the gazebo has not been forgotten, certainly not by him. Sometimes I tell myself that I do not long for him, but usually this is a lie. My gut cramps up, when I see him working in my garden. When eventually the moon disappears again I fall asleep, but my sleep is restless.
Wednesday 8801. We are more distant than ever from our historical reality. The machine works day and night but gradually seems to lose terrain. That much I learn from the evening newscasts. There is censorship, which means that the real news is even worse.
Thursday 8733. A Douglas Stratocruiser crashed just outside London, with thirty-seven casualties. And three Neanderthal. We have made history once again: for the first time humans and Neanderthal are united in death. Last night I was not in my bedroom but in the living room, where I slept on the sofa. Dreams are becoming part of our fate. Of mine at least. We now know all too well how fragile our life and our planet have become. The machine that towers over the city often obscures the sky. Birds flee from her. People want to do the same, but realize that there are no safe places left.
Friday 7602. He came back and pruned my roses. I feel attached to him, however strange this may sound. He is not a very graceful creature, not at all, but his appearance reassures me. Suddenly red ink flows from my pen. Startled, I assume it is blood, but then realize it is the color of the moon – although earth's companion is now white again, as it should.
Saturday 6566. The flow of information that is swallowed by the Neanderthal's machine is so vast it causes the loss of all meaning, so painfully felt in all parts of our feeble society. Yesterday, French and German universities decided to close their doors, followed today by those in the United Kingdom. The darkness of ignorance slides over the globe, from east to west. Popular media welcome the new situation, which allows them to monopolize the dissemination of information. Esoteric theories quickly become popular, and their adherents continue to burn books. We enter a new era of happy ignorance. Thus humanity closes its final chapter of civilization.
Sunday 5911. My pessimism has abated a bit. The Neanderthal visited me again today, more arrogant than before. I tried to win his sympathy, offering him tea, a beverage his ilk is fond of. With milk and sugar. He needed a big cup since he cannot hold a regular one in his large hands.
Monday 4949. The authorities have expressed their intention to declare the state of emergency, but they dare not go beyond this announcement. The Prime Minister confers with his colleagues and afterwards consults with foreign heads of state. Entire historical periods skirt our horizon. We salute dazed ancestors. They prefer to ignore us. How many human beings have lived on this planet? Do their numbers exceed those of the living? How far back would you go if you need to count them? When have they become human? My Neanderthal (the use of the possessive pronoun divulges a lot about my present mindset) is trying my reading glasses but throws them off right away. Today he has not worked in my garden.
Tuesday 7003. Trains and buses keep an entirely arbitrary timetable, without any form of control. It does not matter: people barely travel anymore. They have discovered community life again, and the art of walking. The fossilized stegosaurus has rumbled till deep in the night. Two houses have collapsed, at the end of my street. Only a few of the neighbors bother to help the victims. So much for communal life. My Neanderthal left me another necklace, again made of coral. Where he gets it, I have no idea. He's obviously not communicative over the matter. Coral is only found on some exotic islands. They are at the other end of the world, and no one ever travels anymore.
Wednesday 8109. Fear reigns all around us now, stronger than ever before. The London Stock Exchange, the last of its kind to function, has closed its doors this morning. For as long as The Situation lasts, their board announces, with characteristic British phlegm. Astronomers notice immense storms of unknown origin and power raging in the cosmos. All telescopes that are still functional zoom in on them. There is no reason for concern, the astronomers add: these storms are very distant and the universe is large (and constantly growing in size).
Thursday 4911. I lure my Neanderthal into the garden house again, lift my skirt (since the rape I no longer bother with underwear), and let him sniff me. He gets excited at once. This time I will not call it rape. It is not love either. Between our species the concept of love is ridiculous. He will leave me a coral necklace again in the morning, and his fragrance. Then he prunes my roses. The machine vomits the occasional clouds of black smoke and empty meaning. Mankind loses its sanity. It is time someone else takes over. I want to be pregnant. I want to return to the sea. But neither option has a place in my future.